Effort to enforce safety on roads, waterways

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, PennDOT, Pennsylvania State Police and local police are partnering to help decrease impaired driving and aggressive behaviors through the weekend.

Last year, 326 alcohol-related crashes occurred from Friday, June 27, to Sunday, July 6, resulting in 11 fatalities. This marked an increase from 2013, when 256 alcohol-related crashes and 11 fatalities marred the holiday time period. Also, during the holiday period last year, 85 drug-related crashes and four fatalities represented an increase from 69 drug-related crashes and four fatalities in 2013, a PennDOT press release said.

Officials also want to warn residents about the perils of drinking and boating. On Wednesday, July 1, PennDOT, the U.S. Coast Guard, the state Fish and Boat Commission, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police and Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital will hold a media event at the U.S. Coast Guard facility in Philadelphia, to highlight an Independence Day impaired-driving and boating enforcement campaign, according to a state police press release.

 The event will be held from 11 a.m. to noon at the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay at 1 Washington Ave. It will feature remarks by safety officials, including Trooper Samantha Minnucci from the Avondale barracks, and a mock Boating Under the Influence (BUI) stop to highlight regional efforts related to the Independence Day Impaired Driving mobilization which runs through July 5.

As part of this high-visibility, impaired-driving enforcement effort, state police and local law enforcement will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols, focusing attention on speeders, aggressive drivers and those who drink and drive during the holiday weekend.

A press release from the Avondale barracks said troopers would be closely monitoring Chester County roadways. It said troopers would concentrate on areas that have experienced the highest number of serious crashes in the past.

PennDOT said the enforcement effort is funded through its statewide distribution of more than $4.7 million in federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Take a few seconds to make sure that you and your passengers are buckled up,” said acting State Police Commissioner Marcus L. Brown. “And please, don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. It makes no sense to gamble with your life and the lives of others.”

According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 512 people died in motor vehicle crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcyclist who was drunk during the 2013 Fourth of July holiday. Roughly one-in-five of drivers involved in those crashes had blood alcohol levels of .15 or higher—almost twice the legal limit.

On Wednesday, July 1, NHTSA is holding a Buzzed Driving Twitter chat at 3 p.m. to spread the word that #BuzzedDriving is #DrunkDriving. The public can follow along using #BuzzedDriving, ask questions of experts, and spread this safety message with the help of videos, banners, and other tools NHTSA is offering to help save lives this Fourth of July weekend, a NHTSA press release said. The public can join the conversation on Twitter by using #drivesober and #designateddriver.

Visit www.JustDrivePA.com for more information on impaired driving and PennDOT's other traffic-safety initiatives.


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